Thursday, April 30, 2009

American Birth Culture as Reflected on Youtube

I'm not a huge Youtube-er, but I do spend a fair amount of time there watching birth videos. Whenever I watch a video, I always take a moment to scan through the user comments at the bottom and see what people have to say. First of all, I would like to note that there are a lot of rude, immature people on Youtube who seem to spend most of their time leaving cruel and hurtful comments (and this is on all videos, not just birth videos). But secondly, I see several recurring themes interwoven into comments left on birth videos, and I wanted to share a few thoughts. This is a casual, stream-of-thought blog entry, not a carefully-studied paper, so I would like to say in advance that my observations may be wrong (and will certainly be incomplete). I'd love to hear from anyone out there who has additional input!

Two things: First, I am assuming that Youtube is a reflection of American culture. I know that this is not entirely correct; however, I think that a majority of viewers of English-language videos are probably American (or at least Western). Secondly, I'd like to apologize in advance for the crude vulgarity of item #3!

And so, onto some (summarized) comments that I commonly see on Youtube birth videos:

(1) "What is that weird thing that comes out after the baby?" (referring to the placenta)

Conclusion: We are pretty ignorant about the basics of birth.

Thoughts: Is this a bad thing? From my point of view, yes... but I was just as ignorant (or more so) before my son was born. I had no idea what a placenta was (I thought it was another term for the amniotic sac). I'd never heard of a cervix, or of the stages of labor... or anything else, really. Now that birth is very important to me I am sorry over the mass populace's ignorance, but if I was writing another health blog (about cancer or liver disease, for example) I'd probably be just as horrified over the population's ignorance over that issue. So this is just a thought, not a condemnation.

(2) "Oh my gosh, that (the birth) was so gross. I'm gonna puke."

Conclusion: We see birth as "icky, eww yuck, gross"

Thoughts: This is really sad. Birth is one of the most beautiful miracles of human existence. HOWEVER, I do also acknowledge that birth art and birth photos/videos are a learned taste. I don't know what I would have thought of some of the more baring-all birth videos three years ago before I got into birth culture. But I do think it sad that someone should look at birth and be revolted, regardless.

(3) "Why doesn't she shave? That is so disgusting."

Conclusion: ?????

Thoughts: I've run across this one several times, even one time in the writings of an L&D nurse. And I must admit to... puzzlement. Did I miss out on something? Was there a great movement of American women toward shaving their pubic hair? Or is it just guys with weird tastes who are writing these comments? I don't generally inquire into the shaving habits of my friends, family and acquaintances, so I guess I'm not up on the subject. However, I have never seen a birth video in which a woman had shaved her pubic hair, so I'm guessing this is a fringe thing. Frankly, I think it would be sad if popular culture began demanding that women denude themselves of a natural secondary sexual characteristic... Not that I have a problem with any woman shaving her pubic hair off, but I would hate to see it become yet another fashion "requirement." But anyhow, that was weird. When I'm watching a birth video, the last thing I'm thinking about is whether or not the woman shaved.


Thoughts, anyone???

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I remember learning about that pubic hair shaving trend a couple of years ago. I was also completely shocked. Apparently even many home-birthing mamas do it ('cause I heard about it on a "friends of midwives" email list). Personally I think it would be extremely uncomfortable, not to mention troublesome to maintain. :-/


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